The Birthday! Cakes And The Hummingbird Cake(s)


IMG_4217Sometimes I am Southern.  I was raised by my grandparents (mostly) in small southern inland town and in the summer months, we’d migrate to the beach an hour and half south. While the south is beautiful and has much to offer many, it isn’t a place that truly resonates with me. My spirit.  I often say, “You are born where you are born but choose your home.”  Occasionally I make an exception and call on those southern roots however, and claim the South Carolina.  Such is the case with the Hummingbird Cake.  And collard greens and Hoppn’ John peas on New Year’s Day..

Two friends share the same birthday. They are more like family really.  They happen to be a couple. He happens to be turning 50. As part of my gift to them and being in love with cake, I offer to make their cake. The gleefully agree as they are fans of my sweet treats and baked goods. My most loyal taste testers. I am inspired by Croquembouche and Baba au Rhum but both aren’t really either of my friends’ style of cakes.  I want the cakes to be stackable.  I do a bit of searching and I proceed with mini bundt cakes; Croquembouche style and soaking Baba au Rhum style with a Hummingbird Cake batter.  Hummingbird Cake is one of my most favorites of all time.

Oh, btw, somewhere in between mulling over recipes and baking all these little cakes (throw some late night Thai food and a couple glasses of Champagne), I call my friend and insist she be in charge of the cake tasting and make the final decision for them both.  I bake a black onyx chocolate cakes and vanilla cakes as an after thought.  Just in case.  In case what? I don’t know but just in case. You will see those below too.  After tasting, eliminating Hummingbird test cake that tastes like breakfast bread (mixed flours in that cake) and while chocolate and vanilla were both very tasty (especially vanilla), Hummingbird Cake with my spin wins.  Now how am I going to build and transport these little butter toasted coconut pineapple praline rum soaked cakes?

The Hummingbird Cake came to the United States from Jamaica in the late 1970’s and was first published in Southern Living then.  This cake also won the favorite cake award at the Kentucky State Fair.  Pineapple, banana, pecans and cream cheese frosting are the main flavors traditionally.  For my little cakes, I skip the nuts and add toasted coconut and pralines.  Cream cheese isn’t my favorite frosting as of late so I test other flavors and styles of frostings.

Searching.. Inspirations… and looking recipes and frosting looks a little like this:


Round One:  Hummingbird Cake

At first I think the large cake will be the base. Nope. This becomes and extra cake which I give to my Father for his birthday. Also, the same day as my bestie and her boyfriend..
Cute! Little cakes coming soon..


oven preheating.. pan greased and coated with flour
Coconut flakes coming in to the mix… Where is the crushed pineapple?


Almost ready for the pan..
too small and much more like breakfast breads than cake
these are a little small and under cooked… tasting more like breakfast bread than cake

Vanilla cake:

instead of paddle attachment, I use whist for creaming and beating this cake..vanilla cake
instead of paddle attachment, I use whist for creaming and beating this cake..vanilla cake


I will say, if I may myself, this is one of the best vanilla cakes I have ever eaten..
vanilla bean paste used
vanilla bean paste used
Testure is good. I also like the size..
Testure is good. I also like the size..

Chocolate cake:

Chocolate next up..
Chocolate next up..


amount added to the pan needs to be adjusted.. fixing isn’t uniform texture is desired
simple. Chocolate with powdered sugar..
simple. chocolate with powdered sugar..

Back to the Hummingbird Cake…Round TWO:


here we go..
here we go..
cooling and frosting testing about to begin..
cooling and frosting testing about to begin..Originally I was going to stack small cakes on several large cakes.. didn’t work the way I wanted
butter rum sugar have been applied to the cake with a brush.. a little powdered sugar added. soaks in immediately and will be added last..
maybe only toasted coconut?
maybe only toasted coconut?



cakes everywhere
cakes everywhere.. Thank goodness I have a few cake stands and poppy trail china platters..


testing stacking pre rum soak
stacking..hmmm how to assemble?
stacking..hmmm how to assemble?

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thinking about what to put all 50-60 little cakes on to transport to Santa Monica
cutting board from my kitchen. covered in parchment paper..
cutting board from my kitchen. (will be) covered in parchment paper..
decorating and assembling has begun

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Skewers are placed through the center of the cakes connecting them to one another as to secure them



there are little cakes everywhere..


getting tot he top
getting to the top
testing carry and photo shooting by the light in my kitchen window..tick tock tick tock..

The cake makes it to the Viceroy Santa Monica in one piece. A fun time is had by all at this swanky poolside boutique hotel. The cake is a hit! Little cakes, I should say.  There are great Hummingbird recipes out there.  Try one or combine a few and create your own like I did.  Have fun with it.  And while baking is a science once you know the rules, you can break them and experiment.  Enjoy the rest of summer and may you be the person with the most delicious cake!

Oh and if you have left over cake batter, which I did, make a little cake for yourself..





Until Next Time…

last summer at the party.. before cake lighting..Sparklers coming! (thanks Dan for the iPhone photo and the lighter)